I’m reading Attached. A relatively old, yet very popular book that is roaming the little streets in my LA community. It was a selected reading for a book club I am a part of (yes, I am in two book clubs) and It’s taken me nearly three months to finish. I’m not a fast reader and I don’t read every day anymore. This year has started off running and I’m struggling to catch up. But alas, let’s write.
Attached. talks about the 4 attachment styles that circulate in the human population. And everyone has one attachment style and that style can slowly (often with a lot of internal work) merge into a different one. Usually, the direction of change flow is upwards, with people becoming “healed” into “secure” attachment, which is the holy grail of a healed and secure person and therefore an ideal partner choice because they are able to navigate relationships in a healthy and effective way, not allowing their emotions to control their behaviors.
If you’re new to attachment styles, as I was before reading this book, I suggest taking the test. It’s available online for free and there are a few versions of the test out there. Take the quiz.
THE 4 STYLES:
anxious. avoidant, secure, and a combination of an anxious-avoidant attachment style.
MY ARMCHAIR EXPERT DEBRIEF OF ATTACHED.
In the most simplest, armchair expert terms, a person with an anxious attachment style overanalyzes and ultimately directs blame inward when they don’t get the attention or confirmation they need from their partner.
For example, if this person texts their partner and the partner either doesn’t respond right away or doesn’t answer in a way that clearly expresses what the anxious person wants or needs to hear, the person with an anxious attachment style will go into an emotional spiral (for lack of a better word) and think that perhaps their person no longer likes them or wants to hang out with them, or maybe they did or said something to upset them, and it goes on like this until there is effective communication that puts all those scary thoughts to rest. However, anxious people aren’t great at effectively communicating their needs, and that is why they instead would likely spiral into their own anxious rollercoaster ride until the other person (usually) clarifies why they didn’t answer (or whatever the issue was) or worse, the situation explodes.
Whereas a person with an avoidant attachment style will rather take that unanswered call and use it as an excuse to distance themselves in order to not get hurt by the other person. It’s not to say they don’t feel hurt or internally anxious about it, but rather than going into a spiral, they use it as fuel to get as emotionally distant as possible. Similarly, if the other person calls and calls and calls someone with an avoidant attachment style, it will further push them away because as you can probably guess, avoidants have deep ties to their independence and can tend to feel that their independence is being threatened by an overly needy or anxious romantic partner.
A secure attachment style basically means that the person is able to communicate effectively and healthily and navigate these events where the other person is either spiraling or distancing themselves. They are secure in expressing their needs, listening and taking their partner’s feelings and well-being into consideration, and basically calming an anxious person or reassuring an avoidant person with the proper distance or verbal clarification they may need. Of course all in a healthy and secure way that meets the needs of both parties.
This is not to say that every secure person is compatible with every anxious or avoidant person. Any extreme case can send a secure person to spiral out of a secure attachment style. However, usually, they are able to catch those red flags early on, communicate and understand when someone is not right for them, rather than trying to force things (anxious) or run away (avoidant) at the first sign of unclear trouble, with little to no clear communication.
An anxious-avoidant attachment style is, you guessed it, a combination of both – and can be dependent on who or what you are dealing with and where in your own journey you are.
The general rule here to individuals and relationships is that two people who have an avoidant attachment style rarely (if ever) link up and date. There just isn’t enough glue for them to stay together long enough to form any type of relationship or bond.
Ironically enough, the two attachment types with the most destructive relationship (avoidant and anxious) are the ones that link up the most! So if you have an anxious attachment style, you are likely to start a new relationship (or already have) with someone with an avoidant attachment style; even though these two types of people often end up together, their unique behavior or reaction tactics are what triggers the negative aspects of each style (spiraling and distancing oneself).
And then we have what I know very well from personal experience, a toxic relationship 🙂
For example, the more one behaves in a needy manner (anxious), calling extensively or asking for reaffirming words, the more that action then pushes the other (avoidant) away because it can be perceived as a threat to their independence and triggers the distancing tactics that then causes the anxious person to spiral even more. A recipe for a vicious, toxic cycle. However, the book clearly states that these two attachment styles can work, it just takes… A LOT of work.
Well, thank goodness for that!
A secure person, on the other hand, is able to navigate a relationship with both an avoidant and anxious attachment style and reel them into security because they are able to have those healthy conversations and find solutions to problems, rather than not speaking about them and creating their own interpretation or assumptions from the little information they may already have. The more a secure person is able to meet the needs of an anxious person, for example: call them later and explain why they couldn’t answer earlier (disputing all those thoughts about not being well-liked enough or possibly having upset them), the more the anxious person is able to relax, trust, and loosen their anxious ways. Hence, the more secure they become in the relationship.
However, a person with a secure attachment style isn’t fully off the hook. They can be shaken down when paired with a strong anxious force because the very nature of a secure attachment style accepts and considers their partner’s feelings and tend to feel a sense of responsibility for their partner’s wellbeing. This can blur that silver lining between letting go of what is clearly a red flag, or hanging on because the other person’s well-being is on the line.
For example, if an anxious partner spirals and threatens to self-harm, the secure person might not leave to what is clearly unhealthy behavior due to the belief that they have some power and responsibility over the other person’s well-being. Maybe they’ll seek external help for them, answer each late-night call due to the fear of the other person’s well-being, and accept verbal or emotional abuse with the excuse that their partner is not mentally stable, therefore isn’t fully to be blamed for their painful behaviors, etc. Add in a back-and-forth of toxic behavior like this and with enough exposure and trauma, it can shake a secure person to a mental or emotional breakdown, to distrust (themselves or the other person), or something along those lines.
This here ^ rings true to me and I hope to share more in future posts.
The book provides really clear examples of different relationship dynamics, events, and thought processes that lead certain people to either accept toxic behavior, navigate away from it, or address it head-on. The author also gives actionable steps for each attachment style to help one navigate different scenarios and break away from their own unhelpful relationship habits, such as always going for the “fuck boy” or the “emotionally unavailable partner” etc., etc.
While reading this book I immediately wanted to finish and pass it around to those that may benefit from the read. Currently, she (Attached) is at the hands of another and is sharing her love/knowledge.
Welp, there’s a nutshell of this read so now you either never have to read it, or learn more about your specific style and how it manifests into your life by picking this little bad boy up at your local thrift book store!
In any case, happy reading!